Duncan Green and Hugh Cole meet BiH civil society representatives
Duncan Green, Oxfam Senior Strategic Adviser, and Hugh Cole, Oxfam GB Head of National Influencing team, met with civil society organisations in BiH on 17 and 18 June 2014. This meeting is part of continued support that Oxfam provides to CSOs in BiH, in strengthening their advocacy and activist capacities.
“That is not good. One can not give up on politics, especially when you want to make change. It’s your destiny. For any change to happen and have lasting effect, you have to include decision makers in your campaigning. You have to get them on board.” Said Duncan Green in the meeting with the CSOs.
“In campaigning, you need to place yourself in decision-makers shoes, to understand the thinking, what would motivate them to move. Negative starting points are not good for campaigns, so try to think positive stuff and avoid large scope goals. Rather take smaller, achievable steps in getting there. Establishing the high goals is almost sure to end in failure and frustration.”
As their representatives pointed out in the meeting, CSOs do not enjoy the public trust in the country where over 10 000 CSOs are officially registered. But, on the other hand, there is not much know-how on how to improve that situation. The recent flooding in BiH regained some of that trust, but overall public opinion of the CSOs is quite negative. They feel they need some public campaigns and visibility actions to work on raising their profiles in the public eye.
Although they agree on this, both guests also shared some constructive ideas on how CSOs in BiH can work on gaining back the public trust, such as the need to work on their own transparency and accountability, make information about themselves widely available, as well as to be aware of their own accountability. One of the good ways is to ally with those organisations and groups that already have strong reputation and trust from public in taking actions. Working in alliances results in better end effects, it is best to avoid individual actions. Alliances are also necessary, as the funding is continuously diminished, and it is not going to get better in future, so alliances are one of the guarantees to get better funding support, achieve better visibility and be able to continue the good work.
Oxfam’s project provided the opportunity for 12 participating NGOs from BiH to build their capacity and confidence in campaigns for changes they identify as necessary in their communities and to work with citizens to be more active in taking part in those changes.
“The set of trainings we received from Oxfam is amongst the best and most useful in my professional carrier. The trainers selected were highly professional in teaching us the practical skills. I also appreciate the concrete results of this training that we can bring back home – new practical skills and knowledge, a concrete campaign that we will implement and many new connections with colleagues throughout BiH, which is invaluable to us!” said Zoran Petrovic, from MDP Initiatives, Doboj.
“The meeting with Duncan and Hugh was highly productive – we heard concrete examples, feedback on campaigns we plan and valuable advice on changes we might need to make, to achieve the goals we set before ourselves! Thank you for supporting us and other organisations in such way!” said Belma Panjeta Musić, from CEI “Nahla”.
Duncan Green is Oxfam Senior Strategic Adviser. His engagement in international development work goes back to 1979, with his trip to South America. He lived in Argentina, Peru, and El Salvador. He worked as a journalist and writer, writing several books about Latin America.
“This is meant to be a conversation, a chance to compare notes on the great swirling cloud of chatter, opinion, argument and on-the-ground experience that makes the development scene so fascinating.” says Duncan in the introduction to the blog.
Hugh Cole is Oxfam GB Head of National Influencing team and provides strategic support to country advocacy programmes and to the development of advocacy capabilities of Oxfam and partners in emerging economies, such as Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa and others. As a campaigner and advocate, he led the Oxfam GB international climate change campaign in 2011-2012. Hugh provided leadership on climate change policy, campaign design and adaptation programming in Southern Africa where he also contributed to the network building with government, academia and the private sector, and supported South African and Pan-African civil society groups.